On October 1st, 2013 Nintendo hosted yet another entry in their Nintendo Direct series of videos. Whereas previous Nintendo Directs have focused almost entirely on specific games or the Wii U or 3DS lineup specifically, this Nintendo Direct focused on both Wii U and 3DS equally.
Nintendo started their presentation by talking about what the rest of 2013 and early 2014 will have in store for Wii U. There were some surprises, some pleasures, and some disappointments. Catch it all right here, or watch the replay on YouTube:
Super Mario 3D World looks amazing
The first game Nintendo decided to show off was Super Mario 3D World, which looked absolutely incredible during the presentation. There was a ton of information that came from the new gameplay footage of the game, so I will try to organize it the best that I can.
With Super Mario 3D World featuring Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad as playable characters, fans were wondering who would be the character to be captured by Bowser. Well, this Nintendo Direct gave us the answer in the form of a new character that looks like a female Toad, albeit with a green costume, apparently with a link to the Green Stars from other Mario games. At the start of Super Mario 3D World, Bowser snatches her up, stuffs her in a jar, and then the game is on.
The reason that I feel this new character is connected to the Green Stars is for a couple of reasons. For one, she is dressed in green and has a big gold star on her hat. For two, in the levels shown, Green Stars were shown as a focus, with them being hidden around the levels in threes. Of course, these levels could’ve been specifically Green Star levels like we’ve seen in the Super Mario Galaxy games.
Like I said, we got a glimpse at a variety of levels that are to be featured in Super Mario 3D World. The game has lava levels, ghost levels (with clever new Boo-based tricks), water levels, and a level set on a beach.
The world map is similar to the New Super Mario Bros. games in that it is a grid of sorts that separates the levels and other areas of interest, with players moving across the grid to access the different levels and such. This was shown with a glimpse of the map of the first world, which appears to skew Mario tradition a bit by being based on a carnival as opposed to a more traditional level archetype.
The levels themselves looked positively gorgeous running on the beefed up Wii U hardware. The rest of the level can be seen in the background at all times, and the overall effect just looks amazing. In addition, while I saw a lot of levels that blended 2D and 3D gameplay similarly to what we saw in Super Mario 3D Land, there were also levels that looked wide open and expansive, more in line with Super Mario 64 or some of the levels in Super Mario Galaxy.
There will be interesting twists on various levels as well. Some levels will take place entirely as shadows on the wall, which is a very cool twist on the usual Mario platforming formula. Furthermore, there was another level that featured a giant waterfall of coins just streaming endlessly in the middle of the room.
Super Mario 3D World is bringing a whole lot of “new” to the table as well, which is definitely exciting for those that have tired of the “New Super Mario Bros.” formula. Besides new level designs, we also saw a bunch of new enemies, including new bosses and other hazards.
For example, there was a new bird enemy that remained in spot and slammed their faces into the ground whenever Mario walked by. For water levels, there was a new version of the piranha plant shown that was able to swim and go after Mario even under the water.
On top of that, new ink-like enemies popped out of cannons to pose a new threat to Mario and the gang. In addition, boss fights were shown as well, with the Koopa Kids returning for sure, though probably as mini-bosses this time around. A boss that was a fat enemy in a suit of armor was shown. It was knocked through one of the clear pipes sticking out of the walls, then came out of another clear pipe on the other side of the room, now in a small, cylindrical shape. Also, if I had to make a bet, I would say that the purple car that Bowser is driving around in this installment, the one with the spooky face, is probably going to be a boss or a part of the Bowser boss fight at the end of the game.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Super Mario 3D World are all the new power-ups that factor into the experience. We’ve already seen Cat Mario, and we saw even more of it during the Nintendo Direct. Cat Mario is able to catch birds and rabbits in the levels, as well as use the power-up to climb up the flag poles at the end of each level.
We learned of a new power-up in Super Mario 3D World which is two red cherries. Collecting this power-up actually creates a clone of Mario. If picked up again, Mario will then split into THREE separate forms of himself. All three are controlled at the same time and mimic the movements of one another. In the multiplayer, with up to four players possibly playing at the same time, this means that a total of 12 characters can fill the screen at one time.
There are also returning power-ups such as the Tanooki suit, the propeller hat, and the boomerang all return as power-ups as well.
In 3D World, there also seems to be a new type of power-up category that has been fleshed out considerably in this installment. These are wearable power-ups, and while they’ve been featured in previous Mario games, their importance in Super Mario 3D World seems much greater.
The propeller hat, as I’ve already mentioned, is one of those wearable power-ups. Mario can wear a coin block on his head again to gain extra coins. Mario can also wear a cannon on his head and fire projectiles at enemies while wearing it. Furthermore, a Goomba suit can be worn to blend in with the other enemies.
Other power-ups include a skate shoe that players can use to speed around icy environments. Bombs and baseballs can be thrown at enemies as well. Piranha plants can be carried around by the pot they grow out of and use to consume other enemies and obstacles in the levels.
One of the main gameplay features in Super Mario 3D World is the four-player co-op that is possible. Of course, all four characters can be played solo, and they all have their own special abilities. Mario is the well-rounded character, whereas Luigi is able to jump higher than others. Peach can glide (and her outfit changes when getting the fire flower power-up, by the way), and Toad is the fastest of the four characters.
Super Mario 3D World will be available on November 22nd. Nintendo will begin their promotion of the game in exactly one month on November 1st, when they release two new Wii Remote MotionPlus controllers. One will be red and based on Mario and the other will be green and based on Luigi.
Party game for U
Nintendo then shifted gears from Super Mario 3D World for Wii Party U. We’ve seen Wii Party U in the past, but this time Nintendo decided to focus on a newly announced game mode called House Party Mode. The point of House Party Mode is apparently just to collect a bunch of mini-games together for the sole purpose of parties, and they honestly look innovative and pretty fun.
The first mini-game Nintendo showed was called Water Runners. In this mode, the Wii U GamePad is used in conjunction with the Wii remotes. Water is streaming across the GamePad screen and players are supposed to use the remotes as ladles to collect the water. The Wii remote then has to be carried to the TV screen where the water is dumped without losing the water in the ladle, which can happen by tilting the remote too much while walking to the TV.
Another mini-game shown was Dance with Mii. In this mini-game, the GamePad is placed on the floor. Players stand around the GamePad and all hold Wii remotes. The point of Dance with Mii is to rotate around the GamePad and “dance” by moving their hands up and down in rhythm with the music.
Finally, another mini-game type is called Button Smashers. We’ve already seen this a little bit before, but the basic gist of this is that it is Twister using the GamePad and numerous Wii remotes. Players are assigned buttons to press on the different devices and hold it there, basically.
Overall, there will be eight different mini-games in the dedicated House Party Mode. Wii Party U will be comprised of even more mini-games as well as traditional board games. Nintendo showcased a highlight reel of mini-games that included balancing on thin bridges on a bicycle as well as a sci-fi shooting mini-game for multiple players that was like a shooting gallery.
Nintendo announced that the retail version of Wii Party U will be packaged with a horizontal stand for the GamePad to make playing these mini-games easier. This stand will be especially helpful for tabletop baseball and tabletop Foosball. Wii Party U will be available on October 25th.
Nintendo once again continued the strange tradition of delivering bad news with their Nintendo Direct broadcasts. This time around, they announced the delay of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Originally slated for a release in the fall, the game has since been pushed to February 2014.
Mario & Sonic still don’t have a crossover platforming game to their names, but yet another entry in the Olympic Winter Games series is on the way. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games – Sochi 2014 is set to release next month, and Nintendo used this Nintendo Direct to reveal more information about the game.
This entry in the series will add online multiplayer for the first time. And honestly, the way it is using online is pretty interesting. There will be four different events that can be played online, either against friends or against random people across the world. By winning events online, players earn medals for their home country, with the goal of competing against all the other countries around the world.
For controls in the game, the GamePad and Wii remote can both be used for most of the mini-games. To drive this point home, the first Wii U entry in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games franchise will be bundled with a blue Wii remote. Players can pick the game up on November 15th…maybe when they’re out getting their PlayStation 4.
The blue blur
I was hoping for more Smash Bros. news, but we did get a newly confirmed character for the game. It probably comes as no surprise considering the partnership between Nintendo and Sega, but Sonic the Hedgehog is once again joining the fight in the new Smash Bros. title. A stage based on the Green Hill Zone was also glimpsed.
In other Sonic news, Sonic: Lost World was given the spotlight. There are two different versions of Sonic: Lost World, one coming out for 3DS and the other releasing for Wii U. The Wii U version will feature exclusive Color powers, the ability to share items through Miiverse, and the option to play the game off the TV and completely on the GamePad screen.
On 3DS, Sonic: Lost World (the first portable Sonic game with fully 3D levels, according to Nintendo), will have exclusive features such as the ability to create vehicles. The 3DS and Wii U version will communicate, with players able to upload their creations from the 3DS version of the game to the Wii U version for use in a co-op style mode on the Wii U.
Sonic: Lost World is getting a special edition on the Wii U called the Deadly Six Bonus Edition that contains exclusive boss battles. All versions of the game will be available on the same day, October 29th.
Pikmin 3 has been one of the Wii U’s few success stories since its launch. Nintendo is planning on supporting the game by releasing DLC for the Mission Mode, which are bite-sized levels meant for beating the high scores of friends and other people around the globe through the online leaderboards.
Nintendo has released the “Collect Treasure” DLC Pack for $1.99. There are more DLC packs in development that Nintendo plans to announce at a later date. Nintendo is offering one of the missions from the DLC pack for free.
In addition, a free software update for Pikmin 3 is also available. This update mainly expands upon the leaderboard system to constantly display the person with the highest score in the world for each level, making it easier to digest information when checking the leaderboards.
The DLC for the game is available as of today.
Etrian Odyssey returns
Nintendo then shifted gears considerably by focusing on Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. The game is a remake of the original Etrian Odyssey that released on the original DS system.
This remake features a Classic Mode that plays exactly like the original DS adventure, albeit with improvements and features that were added to the series in the latest entry, Etrian Odyssey IV, which released on 3DS earlier this year. In addition, there will be a new Story Mode that focuses on the adventures of five pre-made characters.
The first run of the game is being packaged with a CD and art book. The game is available as of today.
Just Dance 2014
The latest entry in the Just Dance series features over 40 tracks from artists such as Katy Perry (and others) as well as new game modes. These modes include online multiplayer for the first time in series history, an On Stage mode that puts the focus on a single player with the others serving as background dancers.
Party Master Mode is a mode that is exclusive to the Wii U version of the game. In this mode, players are able to set up the playlist and control what song comes up next using the GamePad, as well as throw out possible dance moves for the people with the Wii remotes playing on the TV to perform.
Other features of Just Dance 2014 are the ability to set up playlists of songs as well as track calories.
Just Dance 2014 is coming to both Wii and Wii U in one week on October 8th. There will be a bundle of the game that comes packaged with a Wii remote.
Activision is releasing the latest entry in the Skylanders series, Swap Force, which is releasing on 3DS, Wii U, and the Wii.
The gimmick of Skylanders: Swap Force is the ability to swap the parts of the new characters for over 250 possible combinations.
The 3DS version of the game will have its own features and exclusive functionality. It will have its own levels and exclusive characters. Since portability is a concern with the 3DS version, players will be able to upload their Skylanders characters into the game and switch between them using button presses in-game instead of literally switching out the figurines on the stand like you usually would.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is also getting a 3DS and Wii U version. Over 100 characters will be playable in both versions, plus both versions will feature Big Fig characters such as the Hulk that have increased levels of destructibility.
Both versions will feature visits to iconic Marvel levels such as the X-Mansion and Asteroid M from X-Men and Asgard from Thor, as well as various others.
That being said, the Wii U version and 3DS version will also have differences between them. The Wii U version will support off-TV play so players can play entirely on the GamePad screen. The 3DS version, subtitled Universe in Peril, has 45 exclusive missions and additional game modes.
The Dark Knight returns
Surprisingly, Nintendo didn’t talk about Batman: Arkham Origins on Wii U. It is possible they avoided discussing it because the Wii U version of the game lacks the online multiplayer that the other versions of the game have. That being said, the Wii U version of the game will also be $10 cheaper.
Nintendo did focus on the upcoming 3DS game Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate. It is the first spinoff game in the Arkham series, and the first one on 3DS. A new gameplay mechanic is environmental analysis that will apparently use the 3DS touchscreen, though this wasn’t shown in action.
Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate on 3DS and Batman: Arkham Origins on Wii U are both releasing on October 25th.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag features the largest open world in the history of the franchise. The game will allow players to customize and upgrade their ships.
ACIV: Black Flag will release on Wii U on October 29th.
Court is back in session
Ace Attorney fans have been longing for another entry in the series for a long time, and Capcom is finally delivering the goods. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies will feature 3D graphics and a new gameplay mechanic called Mood Matrix.
Best of all, Nintendo surprised everyone during the Nintendo Direct by announcing a demo for the game is available on the eShop as of today! The full game will be available on October 24th.
A big focus of next-gen has been indie games. Nintendo rattled off a few indie games that have released on the Wii U and 3DS eShop services, but compared to Sony and even Microsoft, Nintendo is seriously hurting when it comes to indie gaming. That being said, Nintendo is attending Indiecade where they plan on showcasing new indie games releasing on Nintendo systems in the future.
Nintendo has been known to give away exclusive items and such through their online services. They’ve announced that the shirt that Link wears at the beginning of Wind Waker will be available in Animal Crossing: New Leaf on 3DS.
To get this shirt, players have to scan a QR code and then go use the sewing machine at the Mable Sisters shop.
In an earlier Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced the new relay system that will work at Nintendo Zone locations. They have since announced that they are upgrading the relay system. Instead of just getting data from the last person that visited the Nintendo Zone (assuming they visited the location while their 3DS was in sleep mode and you are visiting it while your 3Ds is in sleep mode as well), you will retrieve data from the last six people that visited the Nintendo Zone location.
Nintendo is planning on new data distributions throughout the next couple of months for Nintendo Zone locations. On October 1st, a Fedora Chair item is being released for Animal Crossing: New Leaf. On October 15th, a Sushi Platter item is being released for Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Nintendo is also planning on distributions for other games, including Kid Icarus: Uprising, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7 in the future, but more details weren’t revealed during the Nintendo Direct.
By the way, in association with their promotion of Nintendo Zone, Nintendo brought up the 2DS. The 2DS didn’t receive a big spotlight during the Nintendo Direct, but they did remind everyone that the system will be available on October 12th, launching simultaneously with Pokemon X & Y.
Niche RPG time
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy was never really expected for localization. However, Nintendo has decided to publish the game in North America and PAL regions for Square Enix, who developed the title in association with Silicon Studio.
A new trailer for Bravely Default (the localization release has dropped the “Flying Fairy” subtitle, perhaps for obvious reasons) was revealed, showing off the main characters of the game. Tiz Arrior is the primary protagonist it seems, and he sounds exactly like Jimmy from Grand Theft Auto V. Agnes and Edea Lee are two female characters, and then there is Ringabel, a strange character that has access to a diary that apparently has the power to tell the future.
The in-game visuals were not very impressive, but the presentation of the game, overall, was extremely impressive. The cut-scenes were phenomenally animated and looked fantastic. The game is fully voice-acted throughout, which is very impressive for a cartridge game.
Bravely Default doesn’t have a solid release date nailed down yet, but Nintendo has promised more information on the game in the future. Meanwhile, we got a glimpse of the gameplay outside of the traditional turn-based battles, and it looked like QTEs are going to factor into the experience in some capacity.
A new kind of Zelda
As Nintendo wound down their presentation, they decided to focus on the latest entry in one of their largest franchises with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that is scheduled for release on 3DS. While this game is meant to be a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds is actually doing a lot of different things with the typical Zelda formula.
For example, the order at which dungeons are tackled is now up to the player. Because of this, dungeons won’t feature items that are required to complete the primary puzzles within those dungeons. However, items can be gained later to encourage players to revisit old dungeons and access hidden areas and secret treasures using them.
Unlike previous Zelda games where the items were earned on a dungeon by dungeon basis, A Link Between Worlds will have all the main puzzle items available right from the start of the game at the shop. Players can either buy items or rent them for a lower price. The shopkeeper’s name is Ravio, and he bears a striking resemblance to Nabbit from New Super Mario Bros. U, but Nintendo has said that this is just a coincidence and likely happened because the Zelda and Mario teams work so closely together on the same floor of the building.
A Link Between Worlds will feature a variety of characters. Among the ones shown was Dampe, a gatekeeper, a witch named Irene, a magical person named Hilda, and of course, the titular Princess Zelda, albeit in kid form just like Link is in this game.
Fans can look forward to playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on November 22nd, launching the same day and date as Super Mario 3D World and Microsoft’s Xbox One system. Coincidence? Probably not.
But that’s not all…!
Nintendo decided to close the Nintendo Direct with a surprise, which is really what they should do with every Nintendo Direct, but I digress. Anyway, fans of Kirby can look forward to a new game in the Kirby franchise, as revealed by a snippet of gameplay shoot at the end of this Nintendo Direct.
This game will feature classic side-scrolling Kirby gameplay typical of the series. Players will be able to move between the background and foreground, kind of like LittleBigPlanet, as a new gameplay mechanic.
Kirby will apparently be more powerful in this entry. He was shown to be engulfing an entire tree at one point, or in the process of doing so at least, with the screen flashing and such.
This new Kirby title is releasing exclusively for 3DS in 2014.
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What did you think of this massive Nintendo Direct? Did it meet your expectations? Has Nintendo sold you on a Wii U, or if you already own one, are you excited for any of these upcoming titles? Sound off in the comments below!